I have found Japanese language to be a visual language. English is more of an auditory one. With such a small group of phonemes in Japanese, as compared to other languages, I believe that one must be actually passing the visual image (Kanji) of the word one is speaking in conversation. So if someone cannot read Kanji - I question their Japanese speaking and listening ability. If one hears a word for the first time and knows Kanji then he can "build" that word in his head. Similar to knowing Latin and being able to build a new word. I once knew an old farmer in Japan who was illiterate. Talking with him was difficult in the way that reading a children's book is. With only hiragana and no kanji to delineate the nouns/verbs etc, it was difficult separating his words.
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Posted in: Years ago, business was the main motivation for young foreigners to learn the Japanese language. But nowadays, people learn Japanese because they want to read Japanese manga, play Japanese games and r See in context
The impact of television, manga, anime, music etc is great.
I first came to Japan as an exchange student in 1980. I was an Art/Philosophy student and excited to study the "Culture" as I imagined it was. When I arrived and saw manga and television I embraced these as language learning tools. My intention was to learn to speak Japanese so that I could have much more deeper conversations with my Japanese friends.
In the mid -80's I drew a comic strip called Happy Bob in the Japan Times. For over 20 years I have helped produce Japanese television shows about the US for all of the major TV networks in Japan. The impact of my work on the understanding by the Japanese public, about the US, is great.
All of this started from wanting to read manga and watch Japanese television.
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